C2ER Blog

The Opportunity Atlas Collage

Just released to the public this week, Harvard researcher Raj Chetty and team, in conjunction with the Census Bureau have created an interactive tool to explore economic mobility at the neighborhood and Census Tract level – The Opportunity Atlas.

C2ER staff have enjoyed reading up on and playing with the new tool. The list below offers a collage of quick links to articles exploring the analysis it has to offer.

Find anything interesting to share using the tool? We’d love to hear from you!

C2ER Update on Federal Statistics September 2018

Is Congress funding my data?

President Trump’s agenda to cut costs and streamline government has those who use and value Federal statistics concerned about the future of critical agencies we rely on. Frankly, these agencies, such as the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) have been flat funded for almost a decade. Now what? The latest we heard on funding could be dire for BLS and concerning for the Census.  It is crucial that C2ER members communicate to their Senators and Representatives the importance of BLS data to businesses’ decision-making and profitability. For example, Steve Pierson wrote an op-ed in the Washington post on the importance of funding the Bureau of Labor Statistics, providing an important voice in a newspaper undoubtedly read by legislators and their staffers.

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The 58th Annual C2ER Conference and LMI Institute Forum Is Near

Join us in Atlanta for the 58th Annual C2ER Conference and LMI Institute Forum. Click here for the full agenda. For additional information, visit the Conference page. Hope to see you there!

 

State Data Sharing Initiative Reports Released!

We invite you to learn more about how to improve your economic and workforce development outcomes by using evidence to drive decision making.  The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) just released the report, “Advancing State Data Sharing for Better Economic and Workforce Development” and the tool “Legal Guide to Administrative Data Sharing for Economic and Workforce Development” that offer important lessons for states interested in enabling the responsible use of administrative records for program research and analysis.

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Cost of Living Index Contributor Contest

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Cost of Living Index, C2ER is looking for pictures of “Contributors on the Road.” While out collecting prices in their communities, C2ER encourages participants to take pictures and share them on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag, #50yrsCostofLivingIndex and tag C2ER. The organization who shares the picture with the most likes and shares will win a free online COLI calculator widget to embed on your organizations site for one year and a gift card to the individual participant. Please note that any pictures shared may be used in C2ER and COLI marketing materials and must be posted from the beginning of the data collection period through April 30th.

Additionally, if your organization contributed to the Index historically and has any old pictures or mementos that may help us mark the milestone, we’d love to hear from you!

For questions  or comments, please contact Jennie Allison at jallison@crec.net.

 

How Big Data is Affecting Direct Mail Marketing for Real Estate Brokerages

C2ER is happy to welcome guest writer, Tony Gilbert with The REALFX Group

The world of modern real estate marketing is infinitely more targeted, personalized and sophisticated than it used to be, due largely to the ability to obtain and analyze data. Big data, easily collected in the digital world, has opened myriad possibilities and streamlined efforts across the real estate sales and marketing universe to make them more effective.

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2017 LMI Institute Accomplishments

lmi accomplishments mapTechnical Training

  • Delivered two Basic LMI Analyst courses and one Applied Analyst training course.
  • Designed and delivered two customized courses on data visualization using Excel and Tableau.
  • Introduced a half-day course on “Analyzing and Developing Workforce Studies” at the 2017 LMI Institute Annual Forum.
  • Hosted a monthly webinar series attracting over 800 attendees.

LMI System & Program Support

  • In partnership with C2ER, launched the State Certifications and Licenses Data Tables to provide a state by state perspective on certifications and licenses.
  • Convened the 2017 LMI Institute Annual Forum in Denver, Colorado.
  • In partnership with CREC, engaged in the State Data Sharing (SDS) Initiative, to provide technical assistance to five states looking to shape data sharing processes for better policy and program evaluation.
  • Engaged LMI Institute state and affiliate members to address system needs.
  • Provided management and training support for the Projections Managing Partnership.
  • Hosted the U.S. Census Bureau’s Local Employment Household Dynamics Program’s monthly webinar series.
  • Served on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Data User Advisory Council (DUAC).

Research

  • Implemented research and technical assistance to the National Association of State Workforce Agencies’ (NASWA’s) National Labor Exchange, in partnership with CREC.

Partnership Facilitation

  • Fostered and continuously improved key partnerships with the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), BLS, the NASWA LMI Committee, the Workforce Information Advisory Council (WIAC), the Analyst Resource Center (ARC), the BLS / LMI Oversight Committee (BLOC).
  • Supported the WIAC by providing background information to the Council and serving as a subject matter expert for the committee on data sharing, governance, and funding for the workforce information system.

2017 C2ER Accomplishments

During the past 12 months, the Council for Community and Economic Research, YOUR professional membership organization, has been hard at work increasing the visibility of economic, workforce, and community research by advocating for higher quality data, promoting more focused public and private investments in local data, and continuing to strengthen C2ER products and services.  We keep you informed about new data sources, exciting research, and opportunities to learn.  Following are some of the most vital accomplishments during the past year.

Communication with Data Users and Producers

Publications: C2ER/LMI Institute Weekly Update and Journal

  • Modernized the weekly Update with a fresh look
  • Monitored and summarized emerging data issues, relevant events, and recent research
  • Distributed weekly Update to more than 8,000 individuals, including members and targeted stakeholders
  • Developed target updates to non-members to increase membership rates among current readers
  • Published blog posts on topics relevant to C2ER members, including C2ER events and economic development news and trend analysis (http://blog.c2er.org/)
  • Produced four specialized blog-formatted articles for the Journal of Applied Research in Economic Development on relevant issues to economic development analysts and practitioners

Annual Conference, Training and Certification

  • Coordinated C2ER Annual Conference, LMI Institute Annual Forum and the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) Summit for more than 240 attendees
  • Delivered in-person training courses:

Basic Labor Market Information Analyst

Foundations of Applied Economic Development Research

Intermediate Tableau for Economic and Workforce Developers

Leadership in Research Workshop

Analyzing & Developing Workforce Studies

New Census Tools 101

Applied Analyst Training

  • Conducted 24 webinars, reaching over 2,000 audience members
  • Certified three new Certified Community Researchers (CCR) in Quarter 4, 2017

Data Advocacy and National Visibility for C2ER Member Efforts

  • Served as member of BLS Data Users Advisory Committee
  • Collaborated with Friends of BLS and the Census Project in federal statistical advocacy efforts
  • Met periodically with key Census, BLS, and BEA leaders to improve regional data access
  • Represented the interests of statistical data users in meetings with Congressional staff during several visits to Capitol Hill, including organizing C2ER volunteers to contact Congress
  • Signed on to several letters advocating for proper funding for Census, BLS, and BEA
  • Provided input and technical assistance to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

Data Collection and Research Activities

Cost of Living Index – C2ER’s flagship data product since 1968   http://www.coli.org

  • Remodeled and issued 2017 County and State Level Cost of Living Index
  • Improved the process of library application and added three non-COLI databases including the State Business Incentives Database, State Economic Development Program Expenditures Database, and C2ER Diversity Index Database
  • Conducted online data scraping for housing, grocery, and miscellaneous categories nationwide
  • Attended annual conferences for the American Library Association, Tableau, and Emsi to promote C2ER products and membership
  • Increased metro participation with eight new communities contributing data

C2ER State Business Incentives Database Update http://www.stateincentives.org/

  • Maintained and updated unique summary of around 1,800 state programs designed to help businesses create jobs with 2017-2018 state legislative changes
  • Added additional programs for all U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia
  • Renewed the partnership with SelectUSA at the U.S. Department of Commerce to provide content to international companies seeking U.S. facility locations
  • Updated the program manager contact list based on state agency feedback

C2ER State Economic Development Program Expenditures Database Update  http://www.stateexpenditures.org

  • Updated database for FY 2018 proposed expenditures, as well as FY 2016 actual and FY 2017 appropriated expenditures (when available), for all 50 states in the database
    • Updated 2,300 and added 1,100 more state economic development program expenditure records

Other Policy and Economic Research and Technical Assistance

  • Continued partnership on a two-year project on state data sharing laws, regulations and agreements for a project sponsored by Laura and John Arnold Foundation
  • Assisted National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) with assessing the data analytic opportunities from the National Labor Exchange database of job openings data
  • Provided state incentives information to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce SelectUSA program
  • Conducted research on Current Population Survey microdata about the prevalence of credentials by education level, occupation, and other workforce characteristics
  • Launched the C2ER Tools of the Trade Database, an online resource for economic and workforce developers to identify data resources to guide their research

Three Workforce-Based Reasons Why Amazon Should Locate Its Second Headquarters In the Washington, D.C. Metro Area

C2ER and the LMI Institute are pleased to welcome this guest post from Lokesh Dani, a current graduate student at George Mason University in Arlington, VA.

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Amazon is looking for a second headquarters—HQ2. Many major metropolitan areas are preparing proposals now to host HQ2. Amazon’s decision will be a pragmatic one of matching its needs and preferences with the metropolitan area’s labor force, its infrastructure, its culture, and the attractiveness of the incentives the city offers. Most cities will accordingly seek to highlight their highly educated STEM workforce, their university system, their subways, highways, and airports, as well as their quality-of-life, and their culture of entrepreneurialism. Yet, the question of how well matched these features of an economy are to Amazon’s business activity, rather than any average technology-oriented company requires a more nuanced discussion.

Here I present three data-driven reasons why the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region is uniquely well matched to the needs of an Amazon headquarters based on the metro’s unique and specific occupation and industry mix.

  1. Meeting Amazon’s Specific Jobs Demand

An analysis of 5,948 job postings at Amazon Seattle’s headquarters since 2010 reveals that 42 percent of their job-demand was concentrated in software development activities. This was followed by 20 percent concentrating in management-related activities mostly covering project, program, and product management categories, including managerial activities relating to logistics and operations. The third largest concentration of demand was for engineering and R&D related work at 12 percent, followed by business development at 10 percent. The remainder of their jobs demand sought to staff their human resource needs, push their design innovations, and support their everyday activities, including addressing the regulatory and legal environment.

fig 1 amazon

Source: Author’s analysis of Amazon job postings and Bureau of Labor Statistics data

If the functions of HQ2 will mirror those of the Seattle headquarters then, for HQ2, Amazon will seek metropolitan areas that have a similar occupational mix as their expected demand. However, a common issue in matching demand with the regional supply of workers is that job categories, like workers’ skills and abilities, are amorphous and ever-evolving. This is visible in the plethora of job titles associated with related and similar types of work activities, such as the job titles of Programmer, Java Developer, and Software Developer. To get around this problem, I matched Amazon’s Seattle job postings to related occupational clusters in the Washington metro region and assessed the relative concentration of workers employed in these similar clusters.

The results show that for similar jobs as employed at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, the Washington metro region has 2.2 times the national concentration of workers in software development; 2.9 times the national concentration employed in similar managerial activities; 3.8 times the concentration of related engineering and R&D workers; and, 2.3 times the number of business development workers as compared to the national average. This analysis reveals not just that the Washington metro area has a high concentration of educated workers with STEM degrees, but that the region has competitive advantages in precisely the type of educated STEM workers that Amazon needs to staff its new headquarters.

2.  The Washington Metro Area’s Unique Industry Mix

To say that Amazon is a leader in cross-sector innovation would surprise no one. The technology giant may file under the NAICS code 454: “Nonstore retailers”, but the company’s business activities span well beyond the confines of any single NAICS sector, at any level of aggregation. To maintain its innovative lead and to satiate its demand for workers with breadth of knowledge and experience, Amazon hires from a diverse list of industries. It would then be useful to know what cluster of industries’ labor pool Amazon would most benefit from if it were to locate in the Washington metro area.

fig 2 amazon

Source: Author’s cluster analysis of QCEW data drawn as a network using Gephi 0.9.2

To investigate this regional characteristic, I have clustered all 3-digit NAICS industries in the Washington metro area based on the skill and task similarities of their most prominent occupations. This method reveals a ‘similarity’ of industries based on their potential for sharing occupational labor flows. What it shows is that nationally “Nonstore retailers” share an occupational similarity almost exclusively with other “Retail Trade activities”. In the Washington metro area this industry potentially shares labor flows with, “Professional, scientific, and technical services”; “Finance and Insurance”; and, the “Information services industries”. Compared with the composition of job postings of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, the Washington metro area’s unique mix is well matched to keep the company at the frontier of innovation by attracting new workers with a wide set of diverse but related industry knowledge.

3. Regulating the Risks of Automation

Last year Mckinsey issued a report that assessed which jobs are most at risk of automation in the near future.[1] By evaluating work activities rather than job titles they reported that data collection, data processing and work requiring predictable physical tasks are the most susceptible to automation. Given Amazon’s primary industry activity in the retail sector, its data intensive technology, and its dominant market share, it is more-than-likely that the same technical advantage of automation that favored Amazon in disrupting an industry will ultimately present the company with substantial workforce challenges in the future. The only long-term option to automation is workforce retraining and upskilling in conjunction with an update of the regulatory infrastructure to support a digitized workforce. As the seat of the federal government and with one of the nation’s best education ecosystems, this is yet another competitive advantage of the Washington metro area that specifically benefits Amazon’s future growth and headquarters.

Conclusion

Having an Amazon headquarters locate in your city is a profitable opportunity. As Amazon notes in their RFP, “every dollar invested by Amazon in Seattle generates an additional $1.40 for the city’s economy overall.” The RFP further mentions that Amazon’s presence in Seattle has brought large positive innovation spillovers boosting the metro’s engineering and R&D capabilities. For a metro such as Washington, D.C. that has for some time sought to diversify its private sector away from federal dependence and re-brand itself an innovation hub, landing Amazon’s second headquarters would be a big win. Yet, the decision needs to also favor Amazon in a fashion that meets its current needs but also maintains its position at the frontier of innovation. The assessment summarized here provides support for such an argument by showing that the Washington metro area’s occupation mix and its industry mix provide unique opportunities well suited for the needs of an Amazon headquarters.

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/where-machines-could-replace-humans-and-where-they-cant-yet

Data and Budgeting for an Effective Economy

Government provided data plays an integral role in decision-making within businesses and government. It is important that the data be obtained and reviewed with a high level of rigor to maintain its integrity. A large quantity of data comes directly from the Federal government thanks in part to agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and most prominently, the Census Bureau. These agencies are all in line to endure cuts from the Trump Administration’s budget.
Supporters of the Census Bureau have raised concerns that the agency isn’t receiving the funds necessary to adequately perform the decennial Census. Government collected data has long been considered the “Gold Standard” of data resources, and for good reason; these agencies are fiercely dedicated to providing accurate, unbiased statistics. Our country depends on these statistics as a kind of lubricant for our economy; the better the information, the more efficient its operation.

We use the Census to determine how our local constituencies are represented. The BEA produces statistics that measure U.S. economic performance, like GDP. The BLS tracks our national unemployment rate, and the demographic statistics that compose the greater national reporting. Cutting funding for these programs could have negative repercussion to our economy and society.

The impact the Administration’s proposed budget has on the Census is particularly concerning. Compared to years past, the proposed funding ramp-up to the decennial Census is far behind, especially considering the new method the Census is interested in testing. The primary function of the Census is to make record of every person residing in our nation, and the Bureau is working to find better ways to execute the most accurate count possible. The Bureau understands that even a successful Census count, like the one 2010, comes with errors, and they are seeking out ways to improve their processes.

Citizens that change residences frequently can be missed, and those with more than one home are sometimes counted multiple times, or do not respond to the standard data collecting methods at all. This has a direct impact on political apportionment, and we should be encouraging the Census to develop new, modern techniques, not battling for funding that barely allows the Bureau to keep valuable programs like the American Community Survey (ACS) afloat. Using new methods to perform such a daunting task undoubtedly comes with uncertainty, but the Bureau of the Census estimate that investing in updates could save over $5 billion when compared to their traditional data collecting methods.

The BLS and BEA both serve to provide policy and business leaders with essential macroeconomic indicators. Monthly unemployment and national GDP statistics are developed by these agencies respectively. Those two statistical programs alone are immensely powerful, and important decisions, including the allocation of government funding and business development resources, are made with this information in mind.

These two programs aside, the Administration’s budget request explicitly states of the BLS that the Bureau “may need to delay or defer spending on…certain data improvement…and research projects…”, a statement that goes without saying considering the FY18 budget request doesn’t even allow the BLS to cover needed budget adjustments resulting from inflation. The National Economic Accounts, which produces the crown jewel of the BEA, annual GDP, faces a sharp 12% reduction in funding which will require the BEA to do away with developing new programs, like the International Trade in Services initiative, completely. In their Congressional budget estimate write-up, the Department of Commerce reports that, “Without these new data, U.S. businesses, trade negotiators, state and local planners, and other policy-makers will lack critical data to guide future economic decisions.”

Quality government provided statistics are an imperative that transcends the political spectrum; Democrats and Republicans alike can understand the important role that the government has in providing accurate data for the Congress. Members of the House and Senate need to know who they are representing if it is incumbent upon them to advocate for their needs. Further, good statistics are needed by both the private and public sectors. Free markets are more productive and efficient when business decisions are informed with reliable data. Good work from the Federal Statistical Agencies raises all the boats in the harbor. This part of our government is too connected to economic activities that result in jobs and wages to not receive the support it needs. The implications of the work done by agencies like the Census Bureau should be considered paramount to the government’s effort in promoting prosperity.

The Census Bureau requires upwards of $1.8B in FY2018 to perform the preparations necessary to conduct a full decennial Census. This upfront investment will ultimately save money and improve the quality of the data. BLS and BEA also have been facing cuts to vital programs due to a lack of funding and staffing and need your support. Contact your representatives to let them know you want them to support Federal data programs. The Census Project, C2ER, LMI Institute, and APDU will keep you up to date as the budget develops.

Economic Development News